Somewhat of a Memoir, TWELVE: Hope

TWELVE

HOPE isn’t the blind faith that everything will work out. It’s the active belief that with positive energy, perseverance, and a dash of chance there will be a positive outcome of any particular thing: an illness, a sports event, a first date, a job interview, etc. Hope without action is absolutely useless. For hope to work you have to line the cards up in your favour and prepare, anticipate, and make the best choices for the best possible outcome. I don’t just passively hope that my story will have a happy ending (like I used to).

I never took much heart to thinking about my future. I just wanted to keep doing whatever it was I liked for the rest of my life. In my elementary school yearbook it says my career dreams were to be an actress or professional soccer player — both activities that very few people achieve great success in and places where I got to go after school and hang out with my friends. I wasn’t notably bad at any of them. In the school plays I often played characters that were in line with my personality so it wasn’t too far out of my realm and I was an okay soccer player. I actually got scouted by a pretty big team when I was twelve but ultimately decided that I wanted to play soccer for fun and probably wouldn’t have been one of the best on my team anymore and I naively liked being the big fish on campus, even in a small pond.

When it came to pick a major in college I was taking advanced placement psychology in my senior year of high school. I liked thinking about thinking and discovering how our minds worked. So instead of taking my sister and brother’s route of a double international baccalaureate in psychology and theater and liberal arts respectively, I took the psychology profile in social sciences which my mother advocated any average boob could pass. I was always just doing whatever I excelled at without thinking about where it would lead me and did I mention that to take that AP psych course I opted out of physics, chemistry and calculus that are a prerequisite to many jobs and industries? I was also in love at the time and all I could think about was growing older and buying a semi-detached like my parents and driving my kids to various sport practices without thinking about how I was going to support that family, have career fulfillment, and definitely not about saving up for a down payment on a property. There was always time for that later, or so I thought.

Things don’t just work out by themselves and I wish my lackadaisical, liberal parents had instilled a better work ethic in me when I was younger: the importance of showing up, being reliable and responsible, trustworthy and hard-working. I don’t remember ever really being punished at home and I managed to stay out of trouble at school wracking up exactly  zero detentions during my whole schooling. The only discipline I ever really received was at soccer practice when I would slack off and have to do laps but even my coach would never got mad at games when we lost. He wanted us to take it seriously enough to get good and not joke around at practice so we would be ready for the competition but not so seriously that we went home beating ourselves up or disappointed in our performance after a bad night. All he wanted us to do was try our best at practice like at games because he ultimately knew that good games came from good practice ethics. Goodness bless people who are like that, especially with pre-teens.

They say ambition is enthusiasm with purpose. I think over the years I have protected myself from getting too enthusiastic about anything for fear of disappointment, but when I think about my future I get so into the dream and so extremely excited that I get frustrated these things often take time and planning. When I make my mind up about something I want it and I want it right now and my immediate situation becomes so instantly intolerable when I’ve decided I want something different. One thing you should know about me is that I’m very impulsive. I am also really non-committal and this makes a very, very dangerous combination. I have a sounding board that I talk most major decisions over with now to avoid getting myself in any sticky situations but I have gotten myself into a lot of trouble in the past by making snap choices and not being able to follow through or stick with it for very long at all. I hate change but at the same time change has been the most constant thing in my life for the last way too long.

Even when I went back to school as an adult I did what was most convenient. I had had a job in administration and was relatively good at that so I figured I’d get more education to find a job there and get a degree which also sits on the long list of things I started but never finished. But now I can’t imagine working in this domain for the next thirty-six consecutive or so years, let alone do literally anything else for the for the rest of my working life until I retire. Or die. I hope I’ll find it and by hope I mean I have committed to my previously mentioned Next Year’s Bucket List that I have every aspiration will help me invest in myself, my tools, my skills, my passions, my pastimes, my interests, my dream life. Everything you do has the potential to open up new doors and possibilities for hobbies, social networks, careers and where you put your attention and energy often dictates the outcome and level of your success in these, especially when you are away from it: if you are in it when you are away from it, you are bound to be better at it. Relevant to me, one of my favourite writers says that if you are a writer, you are never not writing.

I try to do things with a greater purpose in mind. Read in order to learn, learn in order to write, write in order to help, and help in order to feel personal fulfillment. It’s a cycle. Do things that tend to one another. Do things with the intention of the snowball effect that all propel you towards achieving your goals. It all starts with small steps, I promise you. Progress is perfect enough.

As much as I have hope (i.e. active belief of a better outcome in positive action) about my future, it can also be a dark and scary thing to think too much about. The guarantee that nothing lasts forever is at once amazing that we have made it to this day, hopefully for the better, but knowing that all we know now in the present moment will at one time be but a distant memory is unsettling. I hate surprises. I had a friend in school who would always read the last page of a book before reading it from the beginning. She said that she enjoyed it more to know how it ended and I think if I could mentally, physically, and financially prepare for what I knew was coming I’d be a lot happier. I guess that’s why you’re supposed to plan for the unplanned which is the stupidest sentence I have ever written. So much of life is unexpected I don’t know how anyone could possibly be ready for everything.

My parting words to you are this: live genuine. A shitty day, or week, or month even, deserves validation and proper recognition but please help yourself. Help yourself to what lifts you up, what makes you healthy, what brings you happiness. Secrets will eventually swallow you. Free yourself with honesty. You are always your number one. Self-care is not selfish. Distraction and negativity is somewhat necessary but action and productivity are better. Getting out of the house is infinitely easier if you can get out of bed. Treat yourself. Treat other people. Almost everything comes from nothing. Start somewhere, anywhere, even if you get it wrong at first. Do everything with intention. Believe in a higher power, energy, and karma. Mother Nature is a good example of forces not to mess with. Be humble in the face of tremendous adversity as well as great success. Compassion and empathy are portals to understanding. The world is sometimes horrible. Have an awareness of this and be wise but don’t get down about it. Good things are happening. Solitude can be a good thing but companionship is precious. Healing takes time. It also takes work. Never stay idle. There is always work to be done on ourselves and for others. Anger can be a call to action, but be careful because hatred will destroy us all. Phone calls are underrated. Make many memories, and collect keepsakes to remind yourself of them. Invest in yourself and those you love. No gesture done out of love is too small. Bisous to you, boos, baes, and beaus.

xxo,

Ashlinn

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